In his Gameweek 6 review for the Hub, FPL author David Wardale dissects a disappointing weekend for many.
The curse of the early kick-off made its presence felt in Gameweek 6 of Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
Premium picks, and many a captaincy choice, blanked in the Saturday lunchtime slot, meaning low scores for plenty.
But despite a feeble average points tally of 43, it wasn’t all doom, gloom and 2×2 for your captain. It just felt that way.
Chelsea 0 Man City 1 – Doubting Thomas
There’s a fantasy rush on Chelsea FPL players, with three of them in the top five for Gameweek 7 transfers in, despite a home loss to title rivals Man City.
The defeat can, to a chunky degree, be laid at the feet of manager Thomas Tuchel, who set his team up to sit deep and counter attack.
The Blues sat deep all right, but even with a pacey double act of Romelu Lukaku (£11.7m) and Timo Werner (£8.6m) up front, they managed no shots on target.
So why are the likes of Lukaku and defenders Marcos Alonso (£5.9m) and Antonio Rudiger (£5.6m) pulling in so many punters? Chelsea have played Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs away and Man City at home in their first six matches. The next six are, let’s just say, a lot kinder.
Lukaku, in particular, will need to step up, however.
He was woeful, although starved of service, against City, managing just 21 touches in 90 minutes. Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£5.4m) matched that tally from 14 minutes of action.
The template for Chelsea – buy a defender and their main striker – doesn’t quite work for City. Conventional wisdom tells us they don’t really have a forward this year.
Or do they?
Gabriel Jesus (£8.6m) scored the winner, albeit via a deflection, and he now has two goals and three assists from five straight starts. That puts him third among strikers, and tenth overall, in FPL. He’s owned by just 6.9%.
Any player under Pep Guardiola is a rotation risk – just ask Ferran Torres (£7.0m) – but Jesus is getting the minutes and making them count.
So too is Joao Cancelo (£6.1m), who moved to the top of the defenders’ points chart with the assist for the goal at Stamford Bridge.
His versatility – he can play at right or left back – should mean more minutes than most for the Portugal international as City are decidedly light in that area.
Elsewhere, first starts of the season for Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) and Phil Foden (£7.9m) can only add to the options further up the pitch, making Jesus and Cancelo look like the simple solutions for now.
Man United 0 Aston Villa 1 – Knee Jerks
Across Manchester, the natives are restless. And so are fantasy managers.
A third defeat in four matches in all competitions had the #oleout brigade hashtagging themselves into a frenzy, although that tends to happen whether United win or lose or the nation is gripped by a lorry driving crisis.
Talking of which, the Cristiano Ronaldo (£12.7m) juggernaut seems to have run out of fuel as a blank has led to net sales.
That’s a big call when he’s likely to be on penalties following an emphatic miss by Bruno Fernandes (£11.9m) from the spot against Villa.
The pair are not alone on the fantasy naughty step, however, with five of the top seven transfers-out currently United players. Luke Shaw’s (£5.5m) appearance at the head of the list is partly explained by a knock he picked up during his 33 minutes for zero points on Saturday.
The side’s schedule is at the heart of that. United will have to face Everton, Liverpool, Spurs, Man City and Chelsea over the next seven gameweeks – but it’s a shock when even Ronaldo is not deemed fixture-proof.
As for Villa, now could be the time to get on board, even if they did allow United a gameweek-high 28 shots on Saturday.
They face tottering Tottenham next before the fixtures turn even kinder after that.
Two clean sheets in a row suggest investment should start at the back, with match-winner Kortney Hause (£4.4m) the cheapest of the bunch if he can build on his first start of the season.
Brentford 3 Liverpool 3 – Thrill A Minute
The second game of Chelsea’s switch to better fixtures involves a trip to Brentford. They might want to ask Liverpool if that’s still deemed an easy match.
The Bees had impressed across a relatively kindly early schedule, but putting three past a Reds defence that had conceded just once in five previous matches was huge proof as to their growing premier pedigree.
That said, as well as Chelsea, Brentford will face West Ham and Leicester next, so going anywhere near a defence with three clean sheets already might not be wise just yet.
Those who stuck by Ivan Toney (£6.3m) are unlikely to sell him now that he’s produced returns in three of his last four starts. His strike partner, Bryan Mbeumo (£5.5m), has actually outdone him for big chances (4v2) this season.
The fact he’s listed as a midfielder in FPL further boosts his appeal.
Liverpool will console themselves with the fact they won’t have to play Brentford every week, but facing both Manchester sides over the next three gameweeks will run it close.
A first return in four starts for Diogo Jota (£7.7m) looked timely as Roberto Firmino (£8.8m) confirmed his fitness with a run-out from the bench, while Andy Robertson’s (£7.0m) return and assist confirmed that Konstantinos Tsimikas‘ (£4.0m) role will surely be bit-part at best.
Other than that, Mohamed Salah (£12.6m) still looks under-owned even at 58.7%, what with him being top, or joint-top, for goals (five), attempts (25) and shots on target (15), while only two players have more assists than his three.
Leeds 1 West Ham 2 – Bare Bones For Bielsa
Leeds have a great schedule from now until early December, with their supposedly toughest fixtures involving a patchy Leicester and a deeply wounded Spurs.
But who to pick to exploit that run?
Patrick Bamford (£7.9m) is out for the foreseeable future and Raphinha (£6.5m), who scored against West Ham, didn’t train in the lead up to the match and was subbed off as a precaution 68 minutes into it.
Buying what’s left of the Leeds defence remains foolish when the team has no clean sheets, is down with the likes of Newcastle for goals conceded (14) and beats everyone for shots allowed (112).
So Raphinha it is.
If he’s fit.
West Ham continued their fine start to the season thanks to a late winner from FPL’s most cost effective striker, Michail Antonio (£7.9m), who is producing a tasty 5.9 points per million.
A quick glance at the Hammers’ fixtures suggests good times ahead.
A proper look says otherwise, with Brentford, Everton, Aston Villa and Liverpool to come in the next five matches and Man City and Chelsea lurking just round the corner as well.
Everton 2 Norwich 0 – Horses For Courses
Everton are another club offering decreasing options for points, but Norwich are so bad that even a side hoping that Salomon Rondon (£6.0m) is the goalscoring solution can still prosper.
The Venezuelan big fella looks so off the pace at present that he could be ousted by a player with the name of a pantomime horse.
That’s Lewis Dobbin (4.5m), who made his league debut on Saturday and has a bright future. On the pitch, not in panto.
The goals came from Andros Townsend (£5.5m), who upped his attractiveness by assuming penalty-taking duties, and Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.6m), who has flown under most managers’ radars this season.
The 3.9%-owned midfielder now has two goals and three assists and is Everton’s top scorer in FPL and the fourth most productive midfielder in the whole game.
Norwich, meanwhile, continue to smash it as the whipping boys’ whipping boys and they’ve even managed to find a stat to outperform– the Canaries have an xGC of 12.7 but they’ve actually let in 16 goals so far.
Draws Not Bores – Leicester, Watford and the Rest
Jamie Vardy (£10.4m) is still only owned by 12.4% of FPL bosses despite five goals and an assist across a very tidy start to the season.
In fact, he’d lost managers in every gameweek until the current one, where a net 43,116 bought into him and promptly watched him score an early own goal in the 2-2 draw with Burnley.
Oh how they must have laughed, but their mood improved as things went along and their man ended up with a brace, maximum bonus and a second double-digit haul of a currently under-rated campaign.
Finding value elsewhere in the side is proving tricky. The defence hasn’t kept a clean sheet since the opening weekend and Youri Tielemans (£6.4m), who made it back-to-back assists on Saturday, is the pick of a decidedly under-performing midfield.
Burnley assets continue to be ignored by most – Nick Pope (£5.4m) is their most popular player with 2.9% ownership – but they do face Norwich next.
Key Watford players are proving much more to the taste of managers, with one of them, Ismaila Sarr (£6.3m and 15.1%), putting on well over half a million new owners for the visit of Newcastle.
The midfielder didn’t disappoint, scoring his third goal in two games, and another well-backed Gameweek 6 man, Allan Saint-Maximin (£6.8m), was also in the points as he set up the visitors’ equaliser.
Newcastle’s schedule is preferable to the Hornets’, but it is the likes of Sarr and striker Emmanuel Dennis (£5.3m) who are the ones attracting investment.
Sunday Haul, Monday Maul – Arsenal, Spurs et al
Arsenal rolled back the years with a slick and surgical 3-1 win over a Spurs side dangerously close to meltdown.
Three wins on the bounce, two involving clean sheets, suggest a corner has been turned by Mikel Arteta’s men, but the opposition has not been the best and investment should probably factor in value as much as anything.
As a result, Sunday’s star turns Bukayo Saka (£6.2m) and Emile Smith-Rowe (£5.3m) look the part, as does Ben White (£4.4m) at the back so long as the full-backs continue to offer some goal threat but little creativity.
Spurs, meanwhile, are woeful. Something has to give, and it could well be the manager if they don’t turn in a display at home to Aston Villa next week.
Only Man City have allowed fewer shots (36) than Wolves‘ 60 this season, while both they and Southampton had managed just six goals between them heading into their match-up, which had 0-0 written all over it as a result.
Enter Raul Jimenez (£7.5m) to finally break his duck for the season with a second-half winner. A long punt from keeper Jose Sa (£5.0m) provided the assist and a monstrous 14-point haul for his devoted 2.1% fan base.
Pity the 18,393 who flogged the stopper and the 44,436 who finally lost patience with Jimenez heading into the gameweek, however.
Wolves’ fixtures are set fair, but few are buying into their assets, while Tino Livramento (£4.2m and 11.6%) remains the Saints’ most sought after player for price as much as performance. He’s put on owners every week despite producing returns in only two fixtures so far.
Arguably the most entertaining moment of Monday night’s 1-1 draw between Crystal Palace and Brighton came after the final whistle, with a ‘heated exchange’/playground scrap among the players following Neal Maupay’s (£6.5m) last-gasp equaliser.
It’s no surprise to use the words ‘playground scrap’ and ‘Maupay’ in the same sentence, but the striker is also letting his talent do the talking this term. His four goals mean he’s already halfway to last season’s total and they’ve moved him into the top five among FPL forwards.
That should mean a better ownership base than his current 2.8%, but an immediate schedule involving Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool is unlikely to boost his appeal, even with the sweetener of a trip to Norwich after October’s international break.
The two teams managed just eight attempts apiece at Selhurst Park, making it the most shot-shy match of the gameweek, but Palace should have won it after Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m) converted a penalty earned by the tireless Conor Gallagher (£5.7m).
Zaha has now scored two spot-kicks in the last three matches and is, for now at least, the team’s penalty taker, but it is Gallagher who is the Eagles’ standout performer and key fantasy asset.
Palace have scored six goals this season and the Chelsea loanee has been involved in five of them (two goals, three assists). At such a low price point, it’s a wonder he’s currently only owned by 8.0% in FPL.
Short term, his fixtures (LEI, ars, NEW, mci) are not the best, but the ten-game stretch that follows offers potential points right through to the start of next year.
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